Icezoid by Bob Downing


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Post August 09, 2004, 09:49:21 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I'm afraid the poor punctuation of this story made it unreadable. I read the whole thing, but only in the hope that it would clear itself up.
<br>Boy, and people think I'm harsh! :o<br><br>Seriously, I read it. True, it is not as polished as many published here, but it is readable. <br><br><br>
Sorry, to sound overly negative, but I feel...
<br>Is that empathy in your punctuation? :)<br><br><br>As a resident of a Great Lakes state, I'm glad that we have repeatedly said, "Hell, no!" to these pipeline proposals. (Although I have heard rumors that corporations have begun building the California end of said pipeline anyway. Anyhow, stealing the water with an Alaskan pipeline is more popular these days.)<br><br><br>A few things I noticed are:<br><br>I was VERY surprised when Don is told he will design the towers. Until that moment, I thought he was just a space jock. It made me wonder what he had to have on his resume to get the job.<br><br>I'm no engineer, but I doubt the tremendous tidal wave created by a five hundred foot cube weighing four and three quarters billion tons could be contained, even with new, miracle substances. Moreover, I think the enclosure would need to be so tall that it would be unable to support its own weight, let alone that of the water.<br><br>Did you consider the classic lift platform idea instead? You know, a cable stretched to an orbiting platform. Cargo 'slides' down the line to earth, no anti-gravity gizmos required.<br><br>Gee whiz, Buck Rogers, these people can prep for flight across the solar system awfully darn fast.<br><br>Can you actually cut ice in space with a laser? The energy of the beam may be able to melt through the frozen surface, but wouldn't the cold vacuum of space cause it to refreeze back together? <br><br>I'm thinking of the high school science experiment where one takes a block of ice and hangs a set of weights joined by a sturdy wire over it. The weight and pressure causes the ice to melt under the wire, but it refreezes over the wire's top. The wire will slowly work right through the ice, but the ice stays frozen together.<br><br>Again, I'm no engineer.<br><br>Nate
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Post August 09, 2004, 11:51:54 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I found the story readable, and yes, reminiscent of something that Hugo Gernsback(sp?) might have written. The punctuation slips and spelling and grammatical errors were distracting, but ... I've read worse, and I'm sure Jeff Williams (who teaches college courses) could provide examples that would make this look worthy of a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize for Literature.<br><br>What drove me crazy was the indiscriminate mixing of metric and imperial terms (how odd, that the U.S. would be one of the last users of 'imperial' measures -- aside from imperial gallons, anyway). Pick one system or the other and use it consistently, PLEASE, at least when referring to objects and distances. (The descriptions of Don and Dr. Druthers in feet, inches, and pounds may be excusable as common usage.) I suppose you avoided scientific notation when stating large numbers to avoid confusing the mathematically challenged potential readers, but any engineer would probably have limited things to a couple of digits precision (at least when speaking to another engineer or scientist).<br><br>It seemed odd that projects and conditions from 2001 - 2004 (a) were well known to Don, National Geographic notwithstanding (on disc? memory chip?) and (b) were still hot issues in 2221. To say nothing of 1-800 numbers!<br><br>The most flat-out outrageous throwback to 1930's pulp sci-fi, of course, was the passage<br><br>" Oh yeah," said Doc back peddling into the room. "I almost forgot. I just invented a new composite material of cement and plastic that can be extruded and dries harder than steel. Thought you might find some use for it in your tower design. It also has a secret polymer in it."<br><br>(Incidentally, "back peddling" would mean selling backs, possibly door to door ...)<br><br>Druthers must have worked it out in his head -- although chemistry and materials science isn't normally something done in your head while on a multi-year space mission. Anyway, it was probably the 11 secret herbs and spices that made the stuff REALLY strong, not the secret polymer.<br><br>... it just occurred to me that the dilution error on the suspended animation serum was probably caused by a mixup between imperial and metric measures. (Hey, an Air Canada Airbus had to make an emergency landing in the first days after it went into service because somebody read the fuel gauge (in liters?) and thought the number was in gallons.)<br><br>Robert M.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 09, 2004, 11:54:33 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 10, 2004, 12:02:52 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I really don’t have much to tell you except that all towers are functioning nominally. (nominally refers to a things name)

<br>Greg<br><br>That may be technically true, but "nominal" was commonly used in the space program to mean "within expected limits". At Pearson Airport (Toronto), we even call a detailed future schedule (which is based on actual flight schedules, economic models, and EWAGs (educated wild-assed guesses)) a "Nominal Schedule".<br><br>Ironically, your critique contains typos / misspelled words of its own:<br><br> At the line :"Twelve months later" we desparately needed a section break.<br><br>Let's see: is that 'disparately' (we each needed a separate section break of our own) or 'desperately' (we only needed one section break, but we really, really needed it)?<br><br>I don't think the Aussie diet includes quite enough bran ... ;)*<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>*On this side of the Pacific, that's known as Asking For It.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 10, 2004, 12:03:54 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 11, 2004, 07:09:31 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

Far be it from me to claim perfection in the spelling/grammar world, far from it, but I'd hope a story would undergo more thorough editing and proofing than an over-critical lettercol post... :)
<br>Especially since we lettercol posters are self-editing on the fly! You may notice that some of my posts show "Last modified ..." tags, because I go back and fix errors (and / or edit content) if I notice them in time.<br><br>I suspect that the editors (aside from having to slog through a lot of verbiage and becoming numb to relatively minor problems) tend to be reluctant to "fix" other people's work. Perhaps they might try asking the author of a piece that contains an excessive number of grammatical or spelling errors to review and correct the problems -- but that would risk having the author (particularly if he / she is a novice) withdraw the story completely ("Well, screw you! I'm taking my ball and going home!").<br><br>I know Cary in particular isn't shy about noting structural problems in stories (;))! At least I'm not the only beneficiary / victim of this flexing of editorial powers, as noted in D. J. Burnham's response to some comments on July's "In the Blink of an Eye".<br><br>Editors? Have you tried asking authors to fix punctuation, spelling, or grammar when the error count hits double digits? Have you lost stories when overly sensitive authors "left in a huff"?<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 19, 2004, 11:42:27 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

There's more to space opra than meets the "awww" of the beholder.
Dan
<br>Could be worse. Could be space Oprah. (Did you hear that Oprah was selected for jury duty on a murder trial? The jury brought in a verdict within HOURS after defense and prosecution finished presenting their cases. (Of course, with evidence presented that quickly, it must have been a very straightforward case, as in Person A shot person B in front of 99 reliable witnesses, but pleaded innocent anyway ...))<br><br>As Dan noted above, the heroic supergenius character was a 1930's pulp magazine staple.* The question is, was Mr. Downing serious, or was he kidding?<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>*Come to think of it, the Tom Swift books were all in that genre.<br><br>
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Post August 20, 2004, 12:01:16 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

WARNING: Rant Mode activated<br><br>
And I had 25 out of the 29 Tom Swift books. At a $1.25 each, new, my folks bought me every one I found.
I still miss them.
<br>I bet you bought 'em just because you liked them. I know I read Tom Corbet: Space Cadet at least 20 times when I was a kid, just because I liked the story. It was entertaining, and filled me with wonder at what could be in the future.<br><br>I just read a story over at Sci-Fiction (the prime market for shorts, paying 20 cents a word). It was a very good story, mind you, but it still ticked me off. The story there was called "Beautiful Stuff" by Susan Palwick. Basically, its about a dead guy, killed by a terrorist bomb, who is brought back to speak at a political rally for war against terror. Instead of saying what the scuzzy politician wants, he tells everyone to enjoy the beautiful things in life because dying hurts and there are no beautiful things when you're dead. (Did anyone catch the moral there?)<br><br>Why do all the big SF markets now believe that they have to present a social commentary instead of entertaining? It's like they won't publish something unless it will shock a critic or point fingers at what an editor thinks is poor behavior by society. Then, we as writers have to write that way, or they won't publish our stories.<br><br>I don't know about the rest of you, but I didn't fall in love with SF because I liked the social commentary. I read Have Space Suit, Will Travel, The Star Beast and even one or two of those same Tom Swifts because I enjoyed the stories. I wanted to be entertained--and that's all.<br><br>It seems that in these days of declining readership (and viewers), the SF world has forgotten the most important thing in reaching an audience: to entertain them. We can be thought-provoking, sure--an audience will flex their brains just fine for a good story. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy may have waxed philosophical from time to time, but they also spent a good deal more of their time ribbing each other and chasing sexy alien skirts.<br><br>When I'm rich and famous (I'm not holding my breath for that), maybe I'll get all artsy too, but in the mean time, I just want to put good stories out to readers. Moreover, I hope that Aphelion always stays the kind of place it is now: a spot for good stories, not social commentary.<br><br>Nate<br><br>P.S. Does anyone have a copy of Tom Corbet? I'd love to read it once more.
Last edited by kailhofer on August 25, 2004, 07:21:14 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 24, 2004, 09:23:57 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

... I was an odd child, to put it  mildly.
Dan
<br>But now you're just odd. Aren't we all, dear, aren't we all ...<br><br>Robert M.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

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